UN’s food agency: Famine looms in southern Madagascar

Residents of the Anjezika neighborhood help volunteers from the association Le Caméléon by transporting food parcels and clothing that will be distributed to the neighborhood's residents in Antananarivo on May 13, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)

Famine is looming in southern Madagascar, where children are "starving" after drought and sandstorms ruined harvests, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.

Amer Daoudi, senior director of WFP operations globally, speaking from Antananarivo, Madagascar, said he had visited villages where people had resorted to eating locusts and leaves.

I witnessed horrific images of starving children, malnourished, and not only the children – mothers, parents and the populations in villages we visited.

Amer Daoudi, Senior director of WFP operations globally

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"I witnessed horrific images of starving children, malnourished, and not only the children – mothers, parents and the populations in villages we visited," Daoudi told a United Nations briefing in Geneva.

"They are on the periphery of famine, these are images I haven't seen for quite some time across the globe," he said.

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Malnutrition has almost doubled to 16 percent from 9 percent in March 2021 following five consecutive years of drought, exacerbated this year by sandstorms and late rains, he said.

WFP is seeking US$75 million to cover emergency needs in the next few months, he added.